Illka Louw   

What does it mean to be a South African theatre designer in a foreign land? It means that I am drawn to multi-ethnic societies. I enjoy observing difference and similarities to other groups, which often makes me laugh at myself and others.

In South Africa, the Arts amplify our new "Rainbow Nation" status and reflect a kaleidoscope of beautiful and often painful transformation: Ballet performed alongside traditional African dance; a national opera company consisting almost entirely of black South Africans; a musical telling the story of the people of District Six which transferred to the West End and Broadway.

In other words: South Africans have become very good at standing with one foot in Africa and the other in Europe; something I have also experienced during my exhilarating  and highly educational year in Cardiff on my personal journey to becoming a fully fledged theatre designer.

I have discovered that the discipline of theatre design requires an inquisitive nature and a keen interest in the diverse aspects of culture such as history, arts and politics. It is a means of attempting to understand the human condition - a visual bridge between the outer manifestations of culture and the inner more personal voice.

For me the visual language of theatre and design is not only a passport to the imagination. It is a perfect means of communication beyond the barriers of borders.


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